New England Patriots star TE Rob Gronkowski has to be cleared by Dr. James Andrews in order to face the New Orleans Saints, and fantasy owners should just quietly move Gronkowski to the bench at this point. While his status is still up in the air, I wouldn’t move Gronkowski into the starting lineup until there is a strong report that he will play. Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reports, citing a league source, that Rob Gronkowski still has not been cleared by Andrews, thus “pointing to” Gronkowski not being able to play on Sunday.
Gronk could very well be the difference between a victory and a defeat against the Saints high-powered offense, because the Patriots were only able to muster six points last week against the Cincinnati Bengals. Granted, the Bengals have a much better defense than the Saints and Danny Amendola will be healthier this week, but the Bengals didn’t have top CB Leon Hall out there either. Beyond that, even less than 20 points isn’t enough to defeat the Saints, as Drew Brees and his bevy weapons (plus, his excellent offensive line) are averaging about 27 points per game.
So while the Patriots will have an easier time scoring against the Saints than against some of their previous opponents, they will have a harder time keeping up. Another thing to keep in mind is that the Saints defense has been playing really well this season, as they are allowing just 15 points per game. They held the Miami Dolphins, Atlanta Falcons (in Week 1, mind you), and Chicago Bears to under 20 points. The Arizona Cardinals? They could only muster seven on the Saints.
Rob Gronkowski seems unlikely to play this Sunday, and that’s due to concerns over the long-term health of his arm following last year’s unnecessary surgery when it first broke. He’s healthy enough to play, but Gronkowski’s camp and the New England Patriots want to make sure that he is fully healthy. They don’t want to rush him back again like last year, and they would rather have him healthy long-term.